They changed the game

As a part of the NFL's 100th season the league recently highlighted the NFL 100 Greatest Plays, with Franco Harris' Immaculate Reception taking top honors, and the NFL 100 Greatest Games, where the Steelers were once again featured, and the NFL 100 Greatest Characters, highlighting Steelers players and coaches.

For the next two weeks the league will highlight the NFL 100 Game Changers, players, coaches and front office personnel who were difference makers in the history of the league.

Among those featured this week are Dick LeBeau, Bill Nunn and Mel Blount.

No. 46: Mel Blount
Cornerback (1970-83)

There aren't many players who cause the NFL to change the rules because of their play, but there also aren't many players like Mel Blount.

Blount, the Steelers third round draft pick in 1970, came into the NFL with everything a coach would want…size, speed, quickness, mental and physical toughness..

Blount worked his way into the starting lineup in the 1972 season, not allowing a single touchdown all year. Blount's "bump-and-run" coverage later caused the NFL to implement the five-yard bump rule in 1977.

He had his best season in 1975 and was named Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year, finishing the year with 11 interceptions. He finished his career with 57 interceptions and two touchdowns and 13 fumble recoveries with two touchdowns.

Blount was named All-Pro four times and played in five Pro Bowls. He was a key part of the Steelers success in the 1970s, starting and playing a key role in all four Super Bowls during that decade, and earning enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1989.

No. 47: Bill Nunn
Scout, Assistant Director Player Personnel and Senior Scout, Pittsburgh Steelers (1968-2014)

Before accepting Dan Rooney's job offer in 1968, Bill Nunn was a newspaper guy – first a sports writer, then the sports editor, then the managing editor of The Pittsburgh Courier during an era when it was one of the most influential black publications in America.

Starting in 1950, Nunn personally selected the annual Black College All-America Football Team for The Pittsburgh Courier, and in the course of performing that duty he developed relationships with players and coaches at those colleges that would serve him well during his career in the NFL.

Before the rest of the league caught on to the wealth of talent available in the programs at the Historically Black Colleges, Nunn helped the Steelers add many players who would go on to fill integral roles in the four Super Bowl championship teams of the 1970s. Included among those were L.C. Greenwood from Arkansas AM&N, Mel Blount from Southern, Frank Lewis from Grambling State, Dwight While from Texas A&M-Commerce, Ernie Holmes from Texas Southern, Joe Gilliam from Tennessee State, John Stallworth from Alabama A&M, and Donnie Shell from South Carolina State.

For his decades of service, Nunn was enshrined as a member of the Inaugural Class of the Black College Football Hall of Fame.

No. 60: Dick LeBeau
Defensive Backs Coach/Defensive Coordinator (1992-96) (2004-14)

Considered the architect of the Steelers' famed "zone blitz," Dick LeBeau is a man who made a huge difference for the Steelers defense.

LeBeau, who began his coaching career in 1973 and saw it run through 2017, had two stints as the team's defensive coordinator, winning two Super Bowl titles in Super Bowl XL and XLIII. His impact on the coaching staff was profound as the Steelers returned to the top of the NFL in total defense and rushing defense. In 2005, LeBeau's defensive game plans played an integral part in stopping four of the NFL's top five offenses in the NFL playoffs, including limiting Seattle to just 10 points in Super Bowl XL. He continued his success in 2007 as he helped the defense finish the season first in overall defense, third in pass defense and third against the run.

In his 13 years as defensive coordinator the Steelers have finished in the top-five in total defense 11 times, five of those times the team had the top overall ranked defense. During that time the team also won seven division championships, four AFC Championships and two Super Bowls, while making the playoffs a total of nine times.

Prior to entering the coaching ranks, LeBeau produced a Hall of Fame playing career with the Detroit Lions. He played in 171 consecutive games and had 62 career interceptions.

Related Content

Advertising